Photo: Miguela Xuereb

A man with a history of usury and gambling has been remanded in custody after pleading not guilty to fraud charges that allegedly involved accepting deposits in bogus transactions to rent garages.

Prosecuting Police Inspector Sarah K. Zerafa told Magistrate Joseph Mifsud that the accused, Victor Lofreda, 38 from Gudja, would send messages to those interested in renting garages to inform them that he could help them because he knew the garage owners. He would use a fake profile and provide his own number while indicating that it was the owner’s, she added.

The prosecution alleges that after meeting the prospective tenant, the accused would accept a deposit, issue a facial receipt with false information, and then disappear, leaving the victim empty-handed.

The officer further explained that in some cases the accused contacted the prospective tenant to inform them that, unfortunately, the garage in question had been rented to someone else, even though there was also occasions when he avoided the victim altogether.

Besides the fraud, Lofreda was also accused of violating his bail conditions and of being a repeat offender.

Defense lawyers Franco Debono and Francesca Zarb requested bail, arguing that the accused had cooperated with the police.

However, the court disagreed, stressing that it would not be wise to grant Lofreda bail given his gambling problem and previous usury charges.

Nonetheless, the ordained magistrate said that, while in Corradino Correctional Facility, the accused should attend programs that protect him from usury and tackle his gambling addiction.

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